Back in the 9th Century, Charlemagne noticed that the snow on one particular slope in Burgundy melted faster than that on the surrounding slopes. Even back then he understood the importance of that extra bit of sunlight in growing the finest wine grapes. The French call it terroir, and the winery that was built on that slope still carries his name. Due to its unique terroir, Corton-Charlemagne is considered one of the greatest of the Burgundy labels. Terroir applies to food as well and manifests itself as regional diversity. And as far as diversity goes, French cuisine is second only to that of the Chinese. In a French restaurants you can often leave with the impression that French cuisine is heavy and overly complicated. But the French are passionate about their food and the preparation can be remarkably pure and simple. Their secret? Use the freshest local ingredients and prepare each dish with love.
4 thin slices monkfish (or other firm white fish of your choice), cut in half lengthwise 1/3 pound mozzarella 8 finely cut slices of lean prosciutto 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano 1/4 cup butter A few leaves fresh tarragon, (in its absence use parsley), minced The juice of 1 clove garlic 1/4 cup dry white wine Flour White pepper to taste Toothpicks
1. Moisten your meat pounder and gently thin the fish slices, taking care not to break them. Cut the mozzarella into 8 thin slices. Lay a slice of mozzarella and one of prosciutto on each slice of fish.
2. Use a garlic press to extract the juice from the garlic clove; combine it, in a bowl, with the grated Parmigiano, minced tarragon, and white pepper. Spread a little of the mixture over each of the monkfish slices and roll them up, securing them with toothpicks.
3. Roll the monkfish involtini in flour and sauté them in the butter for few minutes, turning them gently. Sprinkle the wine into the pan, cook over medium heat until the wine is evaporated, and serve hot.
The preparation time is about a half-hour, and these quantities will serve 4.
The history of wine in America has been an up and down affair. Attempts by the settlers to make wine from the native varieties came up short. And when they introduced the European grapes, they all seemed to die. The culprit was a tiny insect called phylloxera. Native varieties tolerated the pest, but the immigrant vines fell victim. Grafted and hybrid varieties began to appear and by 1830 the wine industry in America was finally born. But what nature couldn't undo the government almost succeeded in destroying. 1920 introduced Prohibition. In order to stay afloat, most vineyards plowed under their wine grapes and planted table grapes instead. So the fledgling American wine industry, which was indeed world class, came out of prohibition battered and bruised. To be completely honest, our wine industry is still in its infancy. In less than 100 years, America is once again producing world class wines.